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Greetings, WoodsFool, and welcome. You asked:

At an earlier stage of my career I participated in the TIAA/CREF retirement plan, and now have a significant portion of my retirement $$ invested with them. The CREF portion has done very well over the years and I plan to leave it with them at least until I retire. The question I am struggling with now concerns the TIAA portion. This money can not be withdrawn directly, but must be first converted to a withdrawal account and moved to other equity options in equal amounts over a 10-year period. TIAA/CREF allows you to move this money into any of their equity accounts, as well as withdraw the money. I do not want to simply withdraw the funds, as this money would be taxable. What I am considering, is to roll over the money into one of their equity accounts and then into a self directed IRA over the 10 year period and invest it Foolishly. Once this withdrawal process starts, it can not be reversed. Is this a Foolish approach? What I would lose is the ability to use this portion of the account for a pension from TIAA/CREF. A related question is - when the time comes, will it be better to roll over the CREF to a self directed IRA and manage it myself, or convert it to a pension? When I retire I will have Social Security and a government pension under the FERS system. My other retirement assets include a government TSP account and my own investments (currently managed by the WISE). The TSP account can also be rolled over to an IRA. FWIW, I am 59 and plan to retire in 4 years or so. Any advice from other TIAA/CREF participants, government employees and retirees (and of course Pixey) would be appreciated.

Other than being favorably disposed towards TIAA-CREF as one of the best managed pension funds in the country, I hesitate to call your plan either Foolish or foolish. To my way of thinking there are advantages to leaving your money in the TIAA and to ultimately moving it to a self-directed account. Leaving it assures you of another "guaranteed" source of income through the annuity. Inflation protection can come through the self-direction of your TSP money and other investments. Your SS and government pension are somewhat protected already through periodic COLA increases. OTOH, if the TSP and investment accounts are small, then moving it provides a greater opportunity for growth to supplement the pension and SS. You have to look at your situation and decide what's more important, the income security or growth opportunity.

Regards…..Pixy

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